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A mechanism existing within a social system that (a) engages a set of individual members in coordinated and complementary activities which are (b) cognized by these members in terms of purpose, often supernatural, ideological or ritual but have (c) certain regulatory consequences in the sense of affecting or keeping constant variables within or outside (in the environment of) that social system. Sometimes cognizised purposes and regulatory consequences are the same, as may be the case in technical discourses among experts, but mostly it is not. For example the Maring in New Guinea fear illness caused by the spirits who do not like people to reside in the lower areas whereas the lower area is in fact infected with malaria carrying mosquitoes. (Krippendorff)
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